Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pens in Sverige; Line discussion

I am about 30% Scandinavian. I'm into Scandinavian music and lore, as well as my longstanding belief that the best hockey players come from Sweden. That isn't the same thing as saying "The best player in the world  is  Swedish"; far from it. That title is, of course, touted by either a Canadian or Russian currently gearing up for a game against Jokerit.

Speaking of Scandinavians, I'm really wondering where one Janne Pesonen fits into this Penguins lineup.  Therrien seems to be going with Fedotenko-Sid-Satan as the top unit, one which is hard to argue against given the complimentary archtypes the wings represent, and Staal-Gino-Sykora as the 1A line, which again oozes chemistry and poses a threat every shift. I'm more excited about the Gino line. He and Sykora can read each other's mind. Its very special to have two players who compliment each other so well, but Gino and Staal are scary together. Finding that third guy who isn't just along for the ride is damn near impossible, and I think we may just have it.  Pesonen seems to be the top-six type wing, although it remains to be seen how he plays without the puck in the NHL. 

Also interesting is the fact that we're much more comfortable this season with our depth players. They have clearly defined roles. Placing Staal on the wing eliminates a lot of confusion. Max Talbot becomes the checking line center, who along with Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis make for an inredibly fast and aggressive unit. Honestly, I think Talbot and Dupuis are capable of playing LW on most NHL #1 lines. Matt Cooke is going to be great. He's going to be in heavy competition all season with Orps to lead the team in hits, he's going to score between 9 and 14 goals/25 points, and finish with a +/- between +15-20. 

Eric Godard knows. He knows why he's putting on that sweater, taping up those wrists. He's aware that he isn't going to see a regular shift. He understands something that I don't think BG Laraque fully appreciated. He realizes his job is strictly to introduce himself to any opponent guilty of tampering with Penguin superstars. Can he help a line sustain a cycle deep int he offensive zone? Frankly, I don't care. We don't need to find out. What we need is a sheriff, and I believe we've got one. 

Tyler Kennedy recently was signed to a contract extension and he's the #4 Center of the NHL club. This spells the end of Jeff Taffe's chances of remaining with Pittsburgh long-term. Again, it clears up some confusion. 

That leaves a fourth line wing position vacant. Janne Pesonen a fourth line winger? I really don't know. If I'm the coach, I keep Godard at arm's length while double shifting either Sid, Gino, or Staal with Kennedy and Pesonen. Having the fourth line skate with Godard seems more like a liability, even as we're talking about the occasional 40-second shift. Godard should sit between the defence and forwards, keep the bench morale up, and be prepared to fight people. 

Ok, The Rangers are done beating Magnitogorsk, so I'm off. Looking forward to annihilating Jokerit. Go Pens.

No comments: